Now is the time for individuals and businesses to start safeguarding themselves, their property and their employees from the chill — and potential hazards — of winter weather. In this blog, we will share a number of tips and strategies to help owners and individuals proactively prepare.
There is no shortage of winter weather resource guides for businesses to follow. One guide that we recommend to our clients is Accident Fund’s S.A.F.E. Campaign. S.A.F.E stands for Slip and Fall Elimination and is centered on keeping your employees safe.
Here are some overall tips to consider when evaluating your company’s winter weather policies:
Preventive Maintenance Policies and Checklist – Having routine procedures in place to address potential winter weather and its accompanying hazards is critical. Policies should include who is responsible for tasks such as salting, shoveling, putting out mats and setting up wet floor signs. While this may seem like common sense, it is imperative that everyone understands what they are responsible for and why it is important. It is also helpful to develop a safety checklist to help ensure that each task gets completed.
To Drive or Not to Drive…That is the Question – Depending on the nature of your business, you may be exposing your employees to unnecessary risk by forcing them to come into work. Of course, in some industries, such as emergency response or the medical field, attendance is mandatory but in other fields, missing one day at the office is not the end of the world. Anxious drivers are often dangerous drivers. Businesses should consider establishing a formal winter weather attendance policy to help minimize confusion and provide employees with options. These could include taking a personal day, ability to telework or coming into the office a few hours late when roads are safer to travel. It should also establish when the company will make the call on when to close or not. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Temperature Considerations – For employees who work inside or have access to heated buildings, this is not a massive concern. However, for employees who work outside or in buildings that do not have proper heating, frigid temperatures and extreme weather are conditions that need to be considered. It may be wise to have a company policy that addresses what temperatures or wind chills constitute dangerous conditions. It is also important to ensure that all exposed employees are dressed appropriately for winter weather — from gloves to footwear.
Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home, car and other property. As individuals, it is important for us to weatherproof as much we can prior to a storm rolling in or the temperatures plummeting.
Vehicle Care – Now is the time to prepare your vehicle for winter. Best practices include replacing your tires, routinely checking tire pressure, using antifreeze and all-season windshield wiper fluid, assembling a winter emergency kit and never letting your gas tank get too low. As always, use your best judgement on whether or not to venture out in a snow storm or icy conditions.
Home Care – Plunging temperatures and excessive precipitation can lead to disastrous consequences if homeowners are not adequately prepared. Factors to consider include winterizing your pipes, clearing your gutters, sealing your windows and doors and testing your heating system. It is also prudent to stockpile any winter essentials that you might need including shovels, ice melt, a fire extinguisher, blankets and flashlights. You should also take the time to check both your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. But before changing those batteries, make sure to educated yourself on Maryland’s new smoke alarm law for residences that was implemented on January 1, 2018.